Using Moodle on iPad

There seems to be a big debate about the possibility and practicality of using Moodle on iPad technology.

In general, mobile compatibility with SaaS technologies is a hot topic, and mobile integration or app frontends have become a big selling point for a number of SaaS providers.

Clearly, the ability to fluidly use SaaS services, like Moodle, from mobile applications, like the iPad, is a big perk;  you would be able to work and learn from anywhere.

Whether you rely on 4G or wifi, or whether you are sitting in a coffee shop or working on the train, location independence is critical for optimizing work and education opportunities.  Working and learning – when and where we want – is something that we have all long desired, and it’s becoming more and more practical for the average person. Moodle supports a number of mobile platforms, but what about using Moodle on iPad systems?

Fortunately, Moodle does have some level of support for the iPad, but if discussions and reviews are any indication of the quality of this support, then Moodle needs to do a better job. The iPad is the least supported mainstream mobile platform of Moodle.

Why is this, what is the problem most often experienced by Moodle users on the iPad, and what is Moodle going to do about it?

The recurring problem seems to be that modern versions of Moodle, which run on the iPad version of iOS, have difficulty with the editor interface – primarily in posting on the forum infrastructure of

Moodle. This is a critical issue, because one of the key features of Moodle – the community learning experience, depends a good deal on this forum working properly.

The issue, however, isn’t Moodle’s negligence (despite a lot of users claiming otherwise). TinyMCE is a component usually installed on iPads to allow sophisticated JavaScript interfacing; and it doesn’t work well with Moodle. iOS has a strange proprietary core, and it loves to lock out non-Apple designs; especially ones that don’t take advantage of an OEM knowledge of the system’s inner workings. Apple, being in control, is very reluctant to make this something easy to fix.

As a result, all Moodle can do is focus on using the web frontend in a third party browser, rather than iOS’s Safari. While this is unofficial and so not widely documented in Moodle’s white papers, nor their Wiki, users have had some success bypassing problems with TinyMCE.  They have also bypassed Safari’s instability with JavaScript by using ports of Chrome and Firefox to access the web frontend.

The same Apple developers, who pioneered the concept of the mobile app frontend, have made it difficult to use.  This applies to great services like Moodle – the most beloved educational infrastructure of the 21st century.

So, in closing, using Moodle on iPad systems isn’t impossible. But, it doesn’t work properly entirely (due to Apple’s abject fear of supporting anything that doesn’t have their logo on it). Moodle works perfectly on just about every other mainstream mobile system like Android, Windows, mobile and even on Blackberries. But like so many other splendid services and software suites, the iPad is not very compatible (unless you do something drastic and illegal, like jailbreaking it- which I do not condone), or by circumventing the whole ordeal with a 3rd party browser and the web frontend.

 

Nicole Lewis is the Lead Author & Editor of MyLMStips. MyLMStips is dedicated to providing the most engaging topics, information, tips and tricks surrounding Moodle®. It's a place where Moodle® users can receive guidance on how to get the most out of it and increase their productivity and progress.